PALM DESERT, Calif. – Advances in technology helped to lead to the arrest of an Arizona man wanted for six violent rapes between 1995 and 2004.
Working together, multiple law enforcement agencies reopened the cold cases. In all six of the rapes, DNA was collected and entered into the DNA Index System, CODIS. In doing so, six violent sexual assaults were all learned to be committed by the same suspect. Authorities were also able to determined that the suspect sexually assaulted the victims at knifepoint. Four of the six sexual assaults occurred in the City of San Diego between August 18th and November 17, 1995. The other two occurred in March 2002 and November 2004 in Coachella Valley. DNA evidence from the investigations revealed the same suspect committed all of the six crimes. Still, after determining this, the suspect identity remained unknown.
Assistance was requested from the FBI Forensic Genealogy Team in order to determined the identity of the suspect. DNA from a public genealogical database was studied, identifying family members of the suspect with their DNA in comparison with the DNA of the suspect. In April 2019, Christopher VanBuskirk, 46, was identified as the person involved in all of the six sexual assaults. Authorities obtained a warrant for the arrest of VanBuskirk, who was living in Goodyear, Arizona.
An arrest was made at VanBuskirk’s Arizona home. VanBuskirk was booked into the Maricopa County Jail and extradited to San Diego on May 6, 2019, where he faces charges from the 1995 cases.
Investigators from the Palm Desert Station will coordinate with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for charges against VanBuskirk for the sexual assaults that occurred in Riverside County March 2002 and November 2004.The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department believes VanBuskirk resided in the Coachella Valley between late 2001 to 2005. We are asking anyone with information related to these investigations to call our dedicated hotline at 760-836-1660, or email at PDinvestigations@riversidesheriff.org.
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